Andrea Power is a very versatile painter from her dynamic seascapes to her playful seabirds. Her rich use of colour feeds our hungry eyes.
Ann O Reilly, Artist & Therapist, Dingle Peninsula
Has anyone else had the odd experience of moving scenery?? I know it sounds like something from an amateur dramatics production or the like. But I mean the actual terra firma; the solid bits of the view. Mountains, cliffs, rock stacks etc. The unmovable permanent bits...Is it just me? I look at An Searrach or Bull Head or Mount Eagle or Brandon or whatever spectacular panorama, of which we have so many here, and the strangest thing seems to happen.
From exactly the same spot some days the object looks bigger than others!! It truly does... to me anyway. I can be heard saying "Doesn't Mount Brandon look huge today" and it DOES.... it looks much higher and grander than it did yesterday for example.
I notice it most with the prospects East of Dingle as this would be my stomping ground where I walk the dog most days.. " An Searrach looks absolutely enormous today" I could be heard to say only this very morning .. Only the dog and the feeding seabirds said nothing. No affirmation. No reassurance of my sanity being intact. So I am left wondering if it is just me??
If so I blame the Autumn sunshine which has been altogether splendid so far this year. I always forget how magnificent autumn can be. There is a feeling of flatness as summer ends as if we have gone beyond the expiry date and the year is way past its best. But experiencing these graceful autumn days when the golden evening light catches the multi coloured leaves and the sun reflects almost tenderly from the quiet amiable waves.
And everything does look different; thrown into relief by the low angling of the autumn sun; apparently. Though to me it just looks and feels like magic. Which perhaps could explain the moving scenery!!
A few weeks ago my daughter and I took THE trip... out to Skellig Michael. We have been meaning to do this trip for several years but never managed to get a booking when we were able to go and oft times the weather or sea conditions are unsuitable. This summer, despite the Star Wars induced booking frenzy; we managed to get a cancellation to our delight.
Paints or sketch pads were impractical so we went armed with a camera and our memories. The weather was far from lovely and we were told it was going to be a little bumpy on the way out. I had heard how rough it can be on the 12 km crossing in a small open boat. So we took the precaution of taking travel sickness tablets. After about 20 minutes we were sharing these with 10 young men on a stag outing who were quietly turning green as they sat grimly clutching their light sabres and focused on the horizon.
I am always exhilarated whenever I go out on a boat. I have a big thing about the ocean. I must admit on this occasion to being a little stressed by the enormous swell and the huge waves crashing over the open deck. Thank goodness for the water proofs and life jackets we were provided with. Watching the waves breaking and seemingly tossing our teeny boat around willy-nilly did make me a more than a little anxious but the sheer energy of the sea surrounding us so totally was truly awe inspiring and I choose to take heart as the boatman reassured us that all was perfectly fine and we were safe.
So we opened ourselves to the experience and experienced the magnificence of the formidable power surrounding us. On the Skellig for me the overwhelming feeling was of being unsteady. Indeed many times on the climb to the 6th century monastery one feels as if one could just tumble right off that big chunk of rock into the ocean. However, we found ourselves being completely distracted from these dark thoughts by the entertaining festivities of the merry puffins. They were everywhere.
It is impossible not to be totally charmed by these joyful little birds and to sit within a few inches of them as they nest preen and squabble feels like a genuine honour. So we clicked away with the camera and sat with them and were totally enthralled. Being surrounded by the wild Atlantic on all sides is visually stunning. The whole experience is like a tremendous injection of sheer life. Leaving all your senses humming for days after. In fact even several weeks on the whole thing is intensely alive in my mind. Available for me to draw upon when I need inspiration.
When the conditions are right is there anything nicer than taking it all outside.. There are many factors to contend with painting al fresco. Wind, rain, too much sun (this has been known to happen. I remember back in the old days.......) hail, thunder, sand in the paint; could you make a feature of it?
Getting all set up then realising you've forgotten your white spirits or some other essential item. Do you take everything back to the car then set up again on your return or risk leaving it while you nip home? Or do you chalk it down to experience and vow to be more organised in future, return home and paint from a photo in comfort with a cup of tea......?
Dogs mistaking the easel (or my leg) for lampposts! or worse still something to eat! Curious passers-by who though generally well meaning may not understand the strange excruciating embarrassment that creeps over me as someone approaches to have a well meaning peek.. I don't understand it either, but it does happen and it is another obstacle to painting in certain locations.
A person needs great confidence and patience to erect an easel round Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula for example. It is a sure fire way to meet people but not to get any painting done... "It's a work in progress...." I hear myself say. Why am I making excuses for my work? Then there is the ever-changing weather: the lighting of a scene can change incredibly in the course of a few seconds let alone in the hours it could take me to make the bones of a painting. You are half way through capturing the dulcet tones of the sea cliff when the sun hits a bank of cloud and unexpectedly everything turns tropical!
How did Van Gogh and Monet manage??? Not that I am comparing my work with their's. I WISH ! Just all these considerations or obstacles explain why it is quite an unusual site to see a person on the beach with easel and paint brush. I do do it and have vowed to do it more often in the future as, despite all these challenging elements painting, outside is a REAL BUZZ.... and a source a pure inspiration.